Dancing About Architecture
The Austin Music Network changes administrations once again.
AMN for the Future
The Men From Nantucket couldn't have timed things more precisely. Their single "Burning Bridges," which they penned while "crazed with bloodlust for Rob Mahoney, et al.," advocates the destruction of the Austin Music Network and just started making the rounds. Well, mere weeks ago, Austin Music Commission chairman Kevin Connor said he expected things to happen fast once the Commission informed the city of their "no confidence" vote regarding Rick Melchior's Music Management Group and the way they were running AMN. He wasn't kidding. As of right now, Melchior and company are gone, daddy, gone, the Commission having assigned the contract to the Kenneth Threadgill Musical Project under the auspices of managing consultant Woody Roberts, who says he hopes to correct most of the local 24-hour music channel's major problems within 60-90 days. With the first version of AMN being city-run, and the second privately operated, Roberts hopes the community will help support the newest embodiment of AMN, which will be a designated charity (people are more likely to donate to charity than to the city or a private business). "The Music Network is not just a local channel," he asserts. "It's a multimedia project. The focus of the project is Austin music, but it can't happen without filmmakers, without a good Web presence, without the multimedia and graphics people." Folks better start those tax deductible check coming soon, however, since much of Melchior's rented equipment has been returned, and the station currently doesn't even have a camera! Roberts is taking things one step at a time, so viewers should expect to see a lot of videos from the archives before he can restore live programming and taping in local clubs, meaning that Mahoney and What's the Cover will be on hiatus for a good while. We'll have to wait and see how things progress, but frankly, for the first time in a long, long while, the Austin Music Network actually seems to have a future.
Weakened by the Weekend
Hundreds of old (and young) punks in an alley? Free beer? The Motards at their surliest? Naturally, Sound Exchange's 20th Anniversary show went off without a hitch; even the four cops in attendance behaved, chatting amongst themselves most of the evening ("They all asked for T-shirts, though," says Sound Exchange's Craig Koon). Poison 13's reunion was stellar, looking as though nothing had changed for the legendary local punk band in 15 years (then again, their last reunion show was only five years ago), and if air friction could damage a guitar, the wildly thrashing Tim Kerr would've destroyed his by the second song. It was fascinating observing the differences between the two "generations" of punk; any beer placed into the mouth during the Motards set was purely for the sake of spitting it on the band or whoever was convenient, while the Poison 13 crowd all grew up in a time when such waste of alcohol was considered a mortal sin. Of course that doesn't take into consideration members of generation "z" who were in attendance, like the 12-year-old crowd surfer during the Motards set who looked so young it was probably illegal to even spit beer on him. As with the Austin Record Convention this weekend (where I bought a 1973 album by UK poet-rockers Scaffold from a guy who actually played in a band called Gonn that's on the Nuggets box set), people came from all over the planet for the show, traipsing from as far as Japan and even Green Bay, Wisconsin; I'm told that a punk rock promoter from the latter locale "thought he'd died and gone to heaven," though maybe he just got hit in the noggin by one too many Bud tall-boys (I had forgotten they fly 20% farther than regular beers). Hopefully, though, above all, this show was a reminder to people that Sound Exchange is still here, one of a dying breed of "pure Austin" establishments whose outer walls display the art and attitude of local legends from Frank Kozik to Daniel Johnston, whose inner walls are a museum of Texas punk, and whose shelves, perhaps more than any other shop in town, bear the weight of years of Austin home- (and garage-) grown releases. While the Exchange is in no immediate worry of losing its lease, those proud of our city should drop by there soon and often. As Koon is quick to remind people, the Austin that the store is a part of is disappearing fast.
End of the Raygun Era
Just as vendors and patrons at the record convention missed seeing the late Doug Sahm making his usual trek through the auditorium (assuming he would've bothered trying to park in the parking lot ruins there), attendees at the Sound Exchange festivities may have felt a bit sad at the passing of Stick Men With Ray Guns singer Bobby Soxx, who died Sunday, October 22, in Dallas of liver failure. Stick Men were one of the best and most confrontational Texas bands of the Eighties. They hardly played, but when they did, people remembered it. They never released an album or even a single of their own (how punk is that?), but were on a handful of compilations, most notably Live From the Hot Club, A Texas Trip, and Cottage Cheese From the Lips of Death, which featured a censored version of their most notorious song, "Christian Rat Attack," a song later covered by Dim Stars, a one-off band featuring Richard Hell and half of Sonic Youth. More info and some fantastic photos of this great band are online at stickmenwithrayguns.com, a site operated by guitarist Clarke Blacker, who remembers Bobby as a "very sweet guy, not a cartoon character at all," and "far more complicated than people thought." There's a wake this Sunday at Bar of Soap in Dallas, 3pm.
Tee Vee Time Again
The Chronicle's resident U2 freak Chris Gray reports from in front of our 45-inch Mitsubishi: "I was hoping my obsession would pay off someday in the form of a guest appearance in "Dancing About Architecture," and lo and behold what I found when the Irish boyz did their first U.S. television appearance in 15 years (or longer) Monday night for their label boss Jimmy Iovine's TV show that used to follow the WWF until it switched networks. How over the moon am I? I switched away from The Rock and Chris Jericho's No. 1 contender match on TNN (now known as the respectable 'The National Network') to USA's Farm Club program, and not only did Bono et al. kick ass on 'Beautiful Day' and 'Elevation,' Farm Club's other guests were none other than the best thing to come out of El Paso since those TV dinners, At the Drive-In, who tore up 'One Armed Scissor,' and our very own favorite indie noise (and graffiti) terrorists, Trail of Dead. USA led up to Trail with teasers promising, 'Trail of Dead destroy our stage in 25 minutes' and a few minutes of background footage of the band, including visits to Thirty Three Degrees, KVRX, and the band getting lost on the way to an Eastside party. There was also a little clip of drummer Jason Reece 'seeking wisdom from' Bono, wherein the Irishman told Jason, 'your band's got it goin' on' and gave him some advice about the crowd: 'Don't do what they want. Do what you want' (as if Trail of Dead needs to be told that!). Then they did 'Richter Scale Madness' and quite literally tore shit apart. Most rock & roll." If you missed the show, it repeats (as Dynamite Hack fans well know) on Saturday night. Also on the tube, publicist and former Toni Price associate Cary Baker made his national TV debut Monday on the Animal Planet cable channel's game show You Look Like a Dog, where he attempted to confuse a panel of comedians including Edd Hall (insert your own Pong joke here) and Victoria Jackson as to whether he actually was the owner of his black cat Vinnie. "I managed to fool a few of the panelists" says Baker, who was followed by a zebra act, "and took home a couple bucks." Hopefully he means money and not deer.
The Movements Gallery has ceased all movement as of Wednesday night, so say goodbye to another of Austin's homes for unusual activities of both musical and nonmusical persuasions. As ever, cut off one musical arm of our fair city, and another takes its place, however. The Hideout Coffee House and Theatre at 617 Congress, which has already been hosting theatre performances, will be adding music to their calendar, with free live music during the top of the week (see "City Beat")... I was finally informed at the Poison 13/Motards show that the Dead End Cruisers have not broken up. The Stretford split continues as planned, though, with their farewell gig (and a Miss Universe Reunion) scheduled for this Saturday at the Hole in the Wall. Their final CD will be ready in time for the gig, but their posthumous vinyl EP will be just that... Also at the Hole, look for a Doug Sahm birthday bash on what would have been his 59th b-day, Monday, November 6. Featuring performances by the Gourds, Alvin Crow, Tortilla Flats, a couple Bizarros, Joe "King" Carrasco, and Jake Andrews among others, the show precedes by a day the release of the long-awaited Return of Wayne Douglas... What would you get offering a free downtown Austin gig from the little ol'band from Texas on election night? A potentially big headache, says the George W. Bush campaign. After months of discussions, the Bush camp offered a polite thanks-but-no-thanks to the idea of ZZ Top playing Bush's downtown win-or-lose street party Tuesday. According to a spokesperson for the campaign, concerns over cost, staging, and security ultimately derailed the show. "We were available all along," says a representative of ZZ Top's Lone Wolf Management, "and Bush is a friend of ours, but we understand they've decided to scale back their entertainment offerings." Scaled back may be an understatement; at press time the only music scheduled is Robert Earl Keen clone Pat Green and a choral group... For those who still haven't figured it out, the Concert for the Cure isn't another Robert Smith hoot night, it's a benefit affiliated with the Komen Foundation Race for the Cure to fight breast cancer. It's also the first time that Lou Ann Barton, Angela Strehli, and Marcia Ball have played together in over six years. That happens this Friday at the Ben Hur Shrine Temple on Westlake Drive... Willie Nelson's Backyard show Thursday night will be broadcast live on KGSR to kick off the station's 10th anniversary, and Nelson is also gracing the cover of KGSR's 10th Anniversary Edition of Broadcasts Volume 8, a 3-CD set for $15. As far as the station's annual Austin City Limits soundstage Christmas party, confirmed so far are Rickie Lee Jones and Shelby Lynne. Finally, look for the Red Headed Stranger at a Waterloo Records in-store today, Thursday at 4pm...
-- Contributors: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser